An Afghani Khyber knife and Nepalese kukri owned by early British explorer Colonel Edmund Smyth
Lot 3029
An Afghani Khyber knife and Nepalese kukri owned by early British explorer Colonel Edmund Smyth
Sold for US$ 585 inc. premium

Lot Details
An Afghani Khyber knife and Nepalese kukri owned by early British explorer Colonel Edmund Smyth
An Afghani Khyber knife and Nepalese kukri owned by early British explorer Colonel Edmund Smyth
mid-19th century
Comprising: 1) Khyber knife: straight 23 1/2 inch single edged blade of T-section; brass-mounted grip, the gripscales of dark green horn, the pommel mounted with silver swivel; with original blue cloth-covered scabbard, the mount of silver with pierced rims, the spine with silver reinforcement. 2) Kukri: 14 1/2 inch blade of characteristic form and graceful profile; wooden grip carved with a central ring below a narrow band carved with floral meander; with original black leather-covered scabbard, the front of the throat with rectangular quillwork panel of floral scrolls. Together a copy of the consignor's family tree and a biographical sketch of Colonel Smyth.
Condition: 1) Blade cleaned at some time and shows scattered scratches, some very minor pitting and some areas of delamination; grip spine loose; scabbard covering worn, the mounts with dark, unpolished patina. 2) Blade showing light scratches and areas of corrosion. Hilt with minor marks; scabbard with some surface scuffing, minor losses to leather and with partially open seam.
See Illustration

length of knife 31 1/2in. and length of sword 20 1/2in.

Footnotes

  • Provenance: By direct descent to the consignor.
    Note: Colonel Edmund Smyth, 1823--1911, soldier/explorer/hunter and mountain climber, although little known today, he personified a certain type of inquiring and bold Victorian who helped expand the boundaries of the Empire and explored beyond them. Attending school at Rugby in the 1830s, he was immortalized as 'Crab Jones' in Thomas Hughes novel Tom Brown's Schooldays. Leaving school in 1842 he went to India as an ensign in the 13th Bengal Native Infantry and, according to his published obituary, fought with them in the Battles of Chenab and Gujrat during the 2nd Sikh War. Serving in New Delhi, he became friends with Lt. John Hanning Speke, the future explorer. With him they made a number of clandestine expeditions into Tibet and "Chinese Tartary to the north of the Himalyah (sic) Mountains..." They later planned an expedition to the Caucasus Mountains but bureaucratic problems caused them to abandon the idea. He was selected by Speke to accompany him on his expedition to the headwaters of the Nile but was unaccountably replaced at the last minute. His regiment disbanded in 1857, he returned to England but was back in India in 1861 where he was appointed Inspector of the Kumaon Circle Public Instruction Department. He served in this post until 1868 and during this time made many expeditions to the Himalayas and in 1862 discovered the Paspawati Valley, now a national park and World Heritage site. A yak he shot near Lake Mansarovar was displayed in the Leeds Museum, evidently the first such example seen in Europe. In 1864 he and three other Britons; Robert Andrew John Drummond, Thomas W. Webber and Henry Hodgson mounted an expedition to Tibet but were discouraged by the Foreign Office and turned back at Taklakot by Tibetan authorities. Refusing to admit defeat, they followed their guides to the little-known Dakeo (Tabsi La) Pass at an elevation of some 20,000 feet. Struggling over the pass they became the first Europeans to view the source of the Brahmaputra River although this important discovery was not published for some years. Returning to England in 1868, Smyth was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. He died in Italy in 1911.
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